Friday, 7 May 2010

London Posse (1989-90) Gangster Chronicle

London Posse were one of the earliest groups to emerge from the British hip hop scene, initially formed by Sipho the Human Beatbox who asked friends Rodney P, Bionic and DJ Biznizz to join him for a tour of the US supporting Mick Jones' (formerly of The Clash) new group, Big Audio Dynamite. When they first formed, they didn't even have a name, but whilst playing in New York City, they were constantly referred to as "the London Posse" because of their hometown, and the name stuck.
On their return, they released a single - "London Posse/My Beatbox Reggae Style" (Big Life, 1987) produced by Tim Westwood which detailed their experiences, but following this, Sipho and Biznizz left the group.

Rodney P and Bionic continued to record, releasing a single - "Money Mad" (Justice, 1988) - with Westwood's Justice label, before moving to Island Records' subsidiary Mango Records to release more singles and their only album, the classic Gangster Chronicle (Mango Records, 1990). With its roots in Reggae and New York hip hop, the album sounded significantly different to the predominant hardcore sound of their contemporaries, and cemented London Posse's reputation as one of the UK scene's most talented groups. When Mango was closed down by its parent company, London Posse moved to Bullit, run by their manager Errol Bull. They recorded a second album, but although a selection of singles came out - "How's Life in London" (Bullit, 1993), "Supermodel/Here Comes the Rugged One" (Bullit, 1993) and "Style" (Bullit, 1996) - the band couldn't afford to put the record out as any money they received for their work was ploughed back into the record company, and it was permanently shelved.

Bionic moved into drum and bass, whilst Rodney P continued as a solo artist - he has formed a partnership with DJ Skitz to host a BBC 1 Xtra radio show and has released a solo album. In 2001, Word Play records reissued the Gangster Chronicles album, adding some of the more sought after later work such as "How's Life in London" and "Pass the Rizla".


In 1990, London rappers Bionic and Rodney P released arguably the first true UK hip-hop album. A potent blend of the reggae, dub and cockneyfied rhymes, their debut album Gangster Chronicle was also to be their last. Successful though it was, when their label went bust, it ceased to be commercially available. Rodney P later became a leading light in UK hip-hop, Bionic got into drum 'n' bass, and Gangster Chronicle was all but forgotten about. Over a decade on and the original ten tacks, plus four follow-up singles, have finally been resurrected and re-issued. And while a lot of water has passed under hip-hop's bridge since its first airing, it's fair to say nothing's ever sounded quite as London as this. It wasn't just Rodney P's Lundunn accent and Bionic's ragga toasting and slang that set the pair apart.. Their use of dancehall reggae ("Money Mad", "Livin' Pancoot"), Soul II Soul grooves ("How's Life in London") and speaker throbbing dub ("Oversized Idiot") ensured they were nothing like their US counterparts or anything else since.
Essentially it's as unique as UK hip-hop gets.

Frickin' Excellence Epitomised

London Posse (1989-90) Gangster Chronicle

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